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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Nigel Stone leads the practice at Boodle Hatfield LLP, which was strengthened by the arrival of Jane Ireland from Ashfords LLP in 2017. The team specialises in acting for private companies and fund syndicates of ultra-high-net-worth investors, as well as clients in the hotels and leisure and technology sectors. Richard Beavan and Rahul Thakrar focus on advising entrepreneurs and their associated businesses in areas such as retail, food and beverages, business and leisure services, the arts, and finance. The team also handles cross-border transactions. Rudy Capildeo was promoted to partner in 2017.

The life sciences and technology sectors are particular areas of focus for the team at Bristows LLP, which regularly acts for large multinationals. Joint managing partner Marek Petecki advised AstraZeneca on the $300m sale of the European commercial rights to its Seloken heart medicines, as well as on the disposal of its early-stage rare disease drugs; Louise Eldridge acted for Ferroglobe on its acquisition of manganese alloy plants in France and Norway from Glencore; and practice head Iain Redford assisted WPP with the £60m acquisition of Design Bridge. The team is also noted for its work for early-stage growth businesses, entrepreneurs and SMEs: recent highlights include Mark Hawes advising UK biotech NuCana on the UK aspects of its $114m IPO of American depositary shares on NASDAQ, and Matt Dennis acting for OXIS Energy, a battery cell company, on four financing rounds. Key clients include Diageo, Cronin, Canon and Amazon. Of counsel David Horner is also noted.

The team at Brown Rudnick LLP¬†is led by Mark Dorff, who specialises in complex cross-border transactions. Lena Hodge¬†is experienced in advising public and private companies and US sponsors on IPOs and secondary fundraisings and M&A, among other matters; she recently acted for Victoria plc, an international designer, manufacturer and distributor of floor coverings, on its ‚ā¨274m acquisition of Keraben Grupo, a ceramic tile manufacturer based in Spain, as well as its ‚ā¨56.5m acquisition of Italian company Ceramiche Serra. Sophie McGrath, who focuses particularly on the venture capital and private equity sector, and Nicholas Vasquez, who regularly handles M&A transactions for real estate and private equity funds, particularly in the hospitality industry, are also noted members of the team.

The practice at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is focused particularly on the TMT, healthcare, real estate, financial services, retail and leisure sectors. Highlights included Mark Howard advising IFS AB on the purchase of mpl systems; Andrew Collins acting for Coex Partners on the sale of the company to TP ICAP; and Michael Lingens advising CareTech on its £17m acquisition of Selborne Care. The team also specialises in the private wealth sphere, acting for a number of entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses; Keir Gordon recently advised the co-founders of Triple Red, a supplier of water purification systems, among other items, on the £17m sale of the company to Edstrom UK Holdings, and David Coates assisted privately owned chemicals company Ineos Holdings on its acquisition of Belstaff. Chris Putt leads the team, which also includes Martin Wright, Andrew Clarke, David Hicks and Hamish Perry. Crest Nicholson, Bellway Homes and Zenium Technology Partners are also key clients.

DAC Beachcroft LLP handles domestic and international transactions for clients from sectors ranging from financial services, technology and real estate to healthcare and energy and natural resources. Nick Gibbon heads the team; his recent highlights include advising cosmetics company Warpaint London on its £18m acquisition of Retra Holdings. In the technology sector, Matthew Darling acted for MXC Capital on its joint venture with Liberty Global, a company within the Virgin Media Group, to undertake a series of acquisitions in the IT services sphere, and on the insurance side, Jonathan Deverill advised Arthur J. Gallagher & Co on the acquisition of the issued share capital of Gatehouse Consulting. David Manifould is also a key member of the team; among other matters, he acted for Keller on the £62m sale of its interests in a Jersey property unit trust, whose structure was a corporate wrap for the largest wine warehouse in Europe, to a South Korean institutional investor.

Farrer & Co counts public and private companies among its clients, with a particular focus on advising company founders, trustees and shareholders. Practice head Richard Lane acted for the shareholders of Company 85 on the £14m sale of the company to Australian telecoms provider Telstra, and advised the minority shareholders of Source 8 on the sale of their remaining interest in the company to Mitie Group. Other highlights for the team included Marie Bates assisting Topland Group Holdings with the £95m sale of a subsidiary which holds the freehold interest in a Bristol office building to a South Korean investor; Simon Ward acting for a wealth management firm on its acquisition of the custody and execution-only dealing business of a privately owned bank; and Anthony Turner advising King’s College School in Wimbledon on the sale of the business and assets of a pre-prep school. Other clients include Arbuthnot Latham, Brookfield, PGA European Tour and Boden.

Grant Gordon heads the team at Fladgate LLP, which acts for clients from the sports and entertainment, energy and natural resources, technology, hospitality and hotels sectors, among others. Ian Brent advised a school communication service on its sale to a private equity-backed provider of educational software solutions; Julian Lewis acted for automotive component and system supplier Magal Group on its sale to Arlington Industries; and Graham Spitz advised Zouk Capital on its investments in Green Hedge, InstaVolt and Huddle. SME market specialist David Robinson, Alex Kaufmann, who is particularly experienced in cross-border M&A transactions, and Mythily Katsaris, who co-heads the firm’s India desk, are also noted members of the team.

Paul Osborne¬†leads the team at Fox Williams LLP, which is noted for its expertise in financial services, technology and natural resources in particular. Osborne¬†advised Plexus Holdings on the ¬£42.5m sale of its wellhead exploration for jack-up applications business to TechnipFMC; Richie Clark¬†acted for NAVES Corporate Finance on the ‚ā¨35m sale of the company to Braemar Shipping Services; Andrew Woolf¬†assisted Clinical Computing with the sale of the entire issued share capital of its trading subsidiaries to Constellation Software; and Peter Faber¬†provided English law advice to Rubis Energie on its acquisition of the Dubai-based holding company of an Iranian bitumen manufacturer. The firm also has a strong equity capital markets and public M&A practice; Guy Morgan¬†advised leading AIM broker finnCap in connection with the ¬£35.5m hostile takeover of ASA Resource Group by Pro Rich Investments. Stifel Financial Corp, Tatton Asset Management and Directa Plus are also clients.

Kemp Little LLP specialises in handling domestic and cross-border M&A transactions for clients in the technology and digital sectors, including global companies, private equity funds and fast-growth businesses. Department head Charles Claisse advised private equity-backed Arrow Business Communications on the acquisitions of Pulse Business Energy and Worksmart Technology, and Andy Moseby acted for NYSE-listed scientific solutions company Agilent Technologies on its £40m acquisition of Cobalt Light Systems, a UK-based provider of strectroscopic instruments. The team also continues to act for online platforms such as home improvement marketplace HomeAdvisor, which it assisted with the acquisition of the MyBuilder home services platform, and advise on cybersecurity transactions and education, financial services, healthcare and advertising technology. Glafkos Tombolis, who focuses particularly on the healthtech and TMT sectors, and senior associates Deborah Angel and Adam Kuan are also noted.

The team at Marriott Harrison LLP has a strong client base of SMEs, entrepreneurs, owner-managers and growing businesses, as well as large corporates and institutions, including Kaplan International Holdings, The Fulham Shore, Coolabi Group and Edge Investments. The technology, media, leisure and retail, healthcare and education sectors are key areas of focus. Jon Sweet leads the practice; he acted for Cello Group on its acquisition of the assets of Defined Healthcare Research and Cancer Progress. Other highlights included Ben Devons acting for Coleridge and Murphy on its £40m sale to Bucherer and advising Market Makers on its £17.5m sale to Centaur Media, and Jonathan Leigh-Hunt acting for Faraday Property Management on its sale to HML Holdings. Daniel Jacob, who specialises in advising clients in the leisure and technology sectors, is also noted.

Mehboob Dossa, Patrick De Ridder and Jeremy Davis jointly lead the team at McGuireWoods London LLP, which has been particularly active handling cross-border transactions for public and private companies in the food and beverage, hotels and leisure, student accommodation, care home, manufacturing and retail sectors. Arlington Advisors, Allegheny Technologies and Charalambos Pattihis are among the firm’s key clients. Philip Newhouse moved to Michelmores LLP in October 2017.

The team at Penningtons Manches Cooper specialises in the technology, real estate, life sciences, and fashion and luxury goods sectors, regularly acting for high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, owner-managed companies, investors and plcs. Among other highlights, practice head Matthew Martin advised the shareholders of Oscar Mayer Group on its sale to a new vehicle set up by a German private equity fund; Ross McNaughton acted for Klareco Communications on its separation from Bell Pottinger out of administration; senior associate Gemma Davis assisted Aprirose with the £70m acquisition of a portfolio of pubs from Mitchells & Butlers; and Christopher Owen advised NewsQuest Media Group on the acquisitions of news publishers in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and Berkshire. Stephen Goldstraw, Melvin Pedro, James Klein (who practises in London and San Francisco) and consultant Teja Picton-Howell are also noted. Other key clients include All Saints Retail, Klareco Communications, OTAS Technologies, MRH and Inauthentic Restaurant Holdings.

Stuart Hatcher leads the practice at PwC LLP, which acts for domestic and international clients across a range of sectors, including financial services, healthcare and energy, with a specific focus on oil and gas. Keith Bottomley, who was promoted to partner in 2017, acted for Enel on the acquisition of a development project in the UK and for the management team of Pure Planet in relation to an £8m seed investment by BP. The team is also noted for handling private M&A transactions; in a recent highlight, Oliver Williams acted for the majority shareholder in Techimp on the sale of the company to Finit Partners. Thomas Colmer, Cynthia Chan, due diligence expert Richard Wood and managing associate Tim Sydor are also noted. Former practice head Mark Crofksey left the team in December 2017; Tom Lewis joined from KPMG; and Peter Workman relocated to lead the firm’s Midlands corporate team.

The team at Wallace LLP counts investors, entrepreneurs, domestic and international corporates and SMEs among its clients; new clients include Fetal Medicine Consulting, Al Mana Group, Copperman Consulting and 8Works Consulting. Practice head David Judah advised longstanding client ID Business Solutions on the sale of the company to the life sciences platform of Danaher Corporation, and, alongside Charlotte Wheeldon, acted for Warwick Hotels and Resorts on its acquisition of The Capital Group. John Woodhouse acted for Flexipads World Class on its sale to French manufacturer Gekatex, supported by solicitor Sam Martin. Solicitor Laura Gillard assisted Fortune 200 company Henry Schein with two acquisitions. Managing partner Rex Newman is also noted. Tottenham Hotspur FC, Maris Interiors and Excell Group are other key clients.

The team at Bates Wells is noted for its expertise in technology, financial services, infrastructure and the impact economy. It frequently handles deals with an international element: practice head Mark Tasker acted for the shareholders in Netsparker on the sale of the company to US investment fund Turn/River Capital; Murdoch Currie, who joined from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP in May 2017, advised Spain-based Alantra Partners on its £30m acquisition of UK corporate finance adviser Catalyst Corporate Finance; and David Davies acted for US-based aerospace testing company Element Materials Technology on its acquisition of UK company NDT. Notable new clients include FairFX Group, Brighton Pier Group, SigmaRoc and Perkbox, a UK start-up that helps companies engage and reward employees; Stephen Callender acted for the latter on its acquisition of digital rewards platform Loyalty Bay.

The practice at Bircham Dyson Bell is led by Nick McCarthy, who had an active year: he acted for longstanding client The Childcare Corporation on the company’s £36m acquisition by scheme of arrangement, advised Harwood on its investment into Inspecs Holdings, advised FIH Group on a recommended takeover and hostile approach, and acted for the management of Mintec in relation to the management buyout by private equity fund Synova. In addition, Philip Lamb advised Claranet on its acquisition of Sec-1 Holdings and acted for NYSE-listed Ecolab on the acquisition of London & General Packaging, alongside senior associate Andrew McGlashan. The team was also bolstered by the arrival of senior associates Tessa Trevelyan Thomas from Clifford Chance LLP and Robert Chidley from DLA Piper, as well as associate Annabel Doneley from Clayton Utz in Australia. Other key clients include Smurfit Kappa and Westchester House Nursery Schools.

Martin Kay leads the practice at Blake Morgan LLP, which specialises in the technology, travel, retail, leisure and real estate sectors, particularly acting for high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs and owner-managed businesses. Highlights for the team included Kay advising the founders of driver training firm TTC Group on the management buyout of the company; Lawrence Phillips acting for Virtual Clarity on Computer Sciences Corporation’s £10m equity investment in the company; and Stojan Essex assisting Fonehouse and Fonehouse Group with the sale of their franchise and online business. Senior associate Michelle Davenport is also noted. Robert Lyons moved to Taylor Vinters.

Healthcare is a sector strength for the team at Druces LLP, which is led by Toby Stroh; in a recent highlight, he and Christopher Axford (who also specialises in shari’ah-compliant transactions) acted for the Montreux Healthcare Fund on its acquisition of Active Assistance (UK) Group, and Axford also advised part of Pickstock Group on the sale of a residential nursing home to Guide Total Care Group. In the biotech sphere, David Smith and David Bennett acted for Summit Therapeutics on the acquisition of an antibiotic discovery and development platform. Other sectors in which the team has been active include manufacturing, hotels and leisure, pensions and technology; the latter is a particular area of growth for the practice. The team has an established client base of institutional fund and listed companies, as well as private companies and investors, including Exclusive Care Group, Emerald Fund of Funds, Napier Capital Partners and Dentons Pension Management.

Forsters LLP focuses particularly on advising family offices, high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. The team includes consultant Craigie Pearson, who has experience in the hotels and leisure, charity and art sectors; cross-border M&A specialist Craig Thompson; and Christine Dubignon, who also regularly handles matters with an international element.

Harbottle & Lewis LLP acts for a number of owned-managed businesses, including high-profile companies such as Skype and Virgin Atlantic, in the technology, media, communications, entertainment, leisure and aviation industries, among others. Colin Howes and Tim Parker lead the practice; Parker recently advised longstanding client Victoria Beckham Limited on a £30m investment into the company from private equity firm NEO Investment Partners. Other highlights included Mark Phillips acting for international performance marketing agency Forward Dimension Capital on its acquisition by The Stagwell Group; Rhys Llewellyn advising the shareholders of Make It Cheaper Group, a business price comparison service, on an investment in the company made by private equity firm ECI Partners; Tony Littner assisting social intelligence company Runtime Collective with its acquisition of BuzzSumo; and Charles Lévêque advising the shareholders of language services provider Translate Plus on the sale of the company to Prodigious. Atomico Investments, Forward Internet Group, ISAM and Bounce Ping Pong are also clients.

Anthony Hunt and Ashley Reeback lead the team at Howard Kennedy LLP, which was bolstered by the arrivals of Jonathan Polin from Dentons in June 2017 and Jonathan Cohen from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in October 2017. The team is noted for its expertise in the hotel, restaurant, leisure and retail sectors: highlights in these areas included Hunt acting for Pandora Jewellery UK on the acquisitions of various concept stores from franchise partners; Paul Glassberg advising Yolana and AYU London (companies associated with restaurateur Alan Yau) on their joint venture with an investor to develop and operate a chain of Turkish restaurants; and Eric Gummers acting for Fairview Hotels on the acquisitions of hotels in Cardiff, Newcastle and Rugby as part of its continued expansion programme. In addition, Gillian White advised the shareholders and management of the Aston Barclay Group on the MBO by Rutland Partners. Michael Harris and legal director Stephanie Brigg are also noted.

Ince specialises in handling transactions in the shipping, aviation, insurance, energy and international trade sectors for domestic and international clients ranging from large listed corporates to family-owned private companies. Practice head Stephen Jarvis  and Mona Patel acted as co-counsel (alongside Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP) for Advent International, advising on the maritime law aspects of the acquisition of an 80% stake in London-based shipping services company V.Ships. Matthew Stratton assisted Acergy (Gibraltar), a wholly owned subsidiary of subsea engineering, services and construction company Subsea 7, with the $279m purchase of the remaining interest in Seaway Heavy Lifting (in which it already owned a 50% stake), and acted for Aegean Marine Petroleum Network on its $367m acquisition of HEC Europe. Other key clients include Danaos, Global Research Partners, Newpark Resources and PVM Oil Associates; China Merchant Partners and GasLog are among the team’s new clients.

Gordon Dadds LLP regularly acts for small to medium-sized private companies, including family businesses or companies owned by high-net-worth entrepreneurs, based both in the UK and abroad. The team is led by Alon Domb, who advised PR firm Modus Publicity, a long-term client, on the acquisition of the business and assets of BPCM London as part of a merger with BPCM. The practice also has extensive public company expertise; in a recent highlight, Rebecca Ferguson led the team advising on the firm’s IPO in August 2017. Other sector strengths include professional services; Richard Elliott acted for Prolegal Solicitors on the acquisition of Alen-Buckley, and senior associate Jenny Constable advised on the acquisition of CW Energy, a tax advisory business in the oil and gas sector, by Gordon Dadds Group. Stephen Fuller and Paul Toolan are also key members of the team.

Kerman & Co¬†specialises in acting for small and medium-sized entrepreneurial companies and business owners, with a particular focus on the energy and natural resources, and more recently technology and growth company, sectors. The team has handled numerous cross-border M&A transactions: practice head Peter Kohl¬†advised the founding shareholder of Lithuanian grocery chain UAB Palink on the ‚ā¨213m sale of the company to ICA Gruppen, a Swedish grocery business, as well as acting for a privately held US media company, Media Link, on its $207m sale to Ascential. Other highlights included Una Deretic¬†advising service station operator Applegreen on its ¬£21m acquisition of seven sites and related businesses from Carsley Group, andMartin O‚ÄôDonoghue¬†acting for the shareholders of The Future Customer on the company‚Äôs sale to IFC. Paul Gilks, Yvonne Costello, Simon Holden¬†and senior associates Coral Yu¬†and Jack Kemmish¬†are also noted members of the team.

Michael Dawes¬†leads the practice at Memery Crystal LLP, which is noted for its established entrepreneur client base, as well as its work for public companies and institutions. High-profile M&A highlights included chairman Lesley Gregory¬†advising the shareholders of Maviga on the sale of the entire issued share capital to ED&F Man Holdings; Nick Alfill√©¬†acting for Caerus Capital Group on the sale of its shares by way of recommended offer to Intrinsic Financial Services; and Andrew Titmas¬†assisting longstanding client Electric Word on its ¬£16.6m acquisition by Sport Business Acquisitions. In the mining sector, Nick Davis¬†acted for SigmaRoc on its ¬£45m acquisition of Ronez, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim, and in the manufacturing sector, Greg Scott¬†advised new client NMB Minebea UK, a subsidiary of Minebea Mitsumi, on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Mach Aero Bretigny Rectification (based in France) and Mach Aero Components Private (based in India) for ‚ā¨38m.

Real estate, technology, energy and natural resources are particular sector strengths for the team at Shepherd and Wedderburn, which has clients ranging from large corporates to fast-growing businesses. Carl Powlson leads the practice; alongside Philip Knowles, he advised Accrue Capital on its £43m acquisition of 100% of the share capital of seven Isle of Man incorporated companies from Harwood Real Estate, and acted for ICG-Longbow on various acquisitions, including two for £51.4m, made through a joint venture vehicle. Walter Blake assisted Satellite Solutions Worldwide Group with its equity fundraising in connection with the acquisition of wireless broadband provider Quickline Communications, as well as other acquisitions in Norway and Australia. The team has also acted for a number of overseas corporates: Andrew Blain, who splits his time between London and Edinburgh, advised Austria-based Andritz on the acquisition of a majority shareholding in key supplier Powerlase Photonics. Senior associate Tom Swan is also noted.

The team at Sheridans specialises in the media, leisure, entertainment and technology sectors. Rex Nwakodo heads the practice; he has significant experience of African markets and is dual qualified in the UK and Nigeria. Other key members of the team are music expert Charlotte Fox, Sara Wax, who focuses on hospitality, retail, media and leisure, Jolita Kajtazi and Mark Hodac.

Media, technology and events are core sector strengths for Simons Muirhead & Burton’s practice, which is jointly led by Peter Weiss and Simon Goldberg. Highlights included Weiss advising Stagwell UK Holdings, a subsidiary of a US-based digital marketing investment group, on the acquisition of Forward 3D Group, a UK digital marketing agency with subsidiaries located around the world; Neal Hodges acting for Banijay UK on the acquisition of media production company 7Wonder; and Natalie Wright assisting UK property consultancy Investments. The team has a number of corporate finance houses among its clients; Hodges and Weiss acted for Atlantic Leaf on the £71m acquisition of 45% of the units in a Guernsey property unit trust and 50% of the shares in a Guernsey management vehicle. Other clients include PEX Software, First Access Entertainment, Duck Soup Films and Bryter.

James Waddell leads the practice at Stevens & Bolton LLP, which has handled a number of cross-border M&A transactions; Keith Syson and Nick Atkins advised e-Travel, an online travel company based in Greece, on its merger with Swedish company Etraveli, and Syson also acted for the shareholders of Acro Aircraft Seating on the £55m sale of the company to China-based Zhejiang Science and Technology Investment Company. In addition, Jenny Robertson acted for Thesis Asset Management on its £47m sale to Regit Bidco, and Waddell advised insurance broker Stackhouse Poland on a series of transactions, including the acquisition of Lucas Fettes. Richard Baxter, Joe Bedford and Ken Woffenden are also key members of the team. Other clients include Bunzl, Metropolis International Group and Broker Network.

The team at Wedlake Bell LLP acts for clients including small and medium-sized quoted companies, investment managers, private clients and family-owned businesses. The practice is led by corporate real estate expert Janice Wall, whose clients include Cala Homes and Care UK. Wall is also noted for her experience in advising public companies on fundraising matters; alongside corporate governance specialist Edward Craft, she acted for nominated adviser and broker client N+1 Singer on a £60m placing of shares in an AIM company. Julian Mathews, who is the key contact for the hospitality and leisure sectors, advised the founder of Bestplace on the sale of a majority interest in the company to Enterprise Managed Investments; he also acted for Petersham Nurseries, Honest Burgers and Nadler Hotels. Rosalyn Breedy specialises in the financial services and private wealth sectors. Adam Lynch joined from Maclay Murray & Spens LLP in October 2017.

Wiggin LLP‚Äôs team is noted for its expertise in the media, technology and IP sectors. Michael Brader¬†leads the practice jointly with Adrian Jones; Brader, who has a strong reputation in independent TV production and sports matters, recently advised Perform on the acquisition of football player data business Scout 7, and Jones, who is also active in the TV sector, acted for Centaur Media on the ¬£16.5m share acquisition of lead-generation business Market Makers. David McLeish¬†and Ben Whitelock¬†specialise in gambling M&A transactions; McLeish acted for the founders of B2C gambling operator Royal Panda on the ‚ā¨120m sale of the group to LeoVegas and for software supplier Playtech on the ¬£50m share acquisition of Eyecon Games, a supplier of online gambling and social gaming slots software. Ciaran Hickey, who heads the firm‚Äôs high-growth technology group, assisted the sellers of Gamer Network with its sale to ReedPOP.

The luxury brands sector is a key strength for the team at Withers LLP; clients include Soho House, Max Mara and Renault Sport. Financial services, real estate, technology and professional services are other areas of focus. The team includes special counsel Ben Simpson, Anthony Indaimo, who splits his time between the firm’s London, Milan and Singapore offices and focuses on cross-border transactions, Paul McGrath, an expert in family-owned businesses, Tim Taylor and Azlinda Ariffin-Boromand.

Andrew Betteridge heads the team at Ashfords LLP, which is noted for its strength in the technology sector, as well as its involvement in cross-border M&A transactions. Simon Rous, who has experience of the UK, US, European and Middle Eastern markets, recently acted for a client on its $100m sale to the other shareholder of its 50% stake in their joint venture in Cyprus, Nigeria, Turkey and Dubai; he also advised a Saudi Arabia-based organisation on the sale of its business and assets to a new joint venture company. Stuart Fleet advised a South African mining company client on a £35.5m hostile takeover offer by an investment company, and Giles Hawkins acted for a client in the renewable energy sector on the £14m disposal of a partnership interest from a venture capital fund in the company. Clients include Gemalto, Sprue Aegis, Tamares Real Estate Investments and Schlumberger.

The team at Collyer Bristow LLP focuses on acting for SME clients, particularly owner-managed businesses, in the sports, media, IP/IT, travel, health, education, retail and property sectors in particular. The team also regularly advises venture capitalist clients: practice head Jeff Roberts acted for private equity purchasing vehicle HM Holdings on its acquisition of HE-MAN Equipment, as well as for purchasing vehicle Allumette on the acquisition of aluminium powder coating business Vertik-Al. Paul Sillis acted for Unusual Industries on the acquisition of Rope Assemblies. Senior associate Ragavan Arunachalam is also noted. Fintech expert Nigel Brahams joined from Fox Williams LLP in November 2017.

London office co-head Susan Laws leads the practice at Duane Morris, which also includes cross-border M&A expert Paul Finlan; Linda Crow, who is noted for her representation of public companies listed on the LSE and AIM; Jeffrey Rodwell, who divides his time between the firm’s Oman and London offices; and German market specialist Ute Mueller, who also has particular expertise in the natural resources and hospitality sectors. The team is especially active in the automotive, IT, financial services, metals and commodities sectors.

Matthew Doughty leads the practice at DWF, which has been bolstered by the arrivals of Alistair Hogarth from PwC LLP, Andrew Carpenter from Addleshaw Goddard, Mel Sims from DLA Piper and Laurence Applegate from REN Legal. The team focuses on the insurance, financial services, technology, retail, transport, energy, retail, food and hospitality sectors. Highlights included Doughty advising new client City of London Group on its £20m acquisition of equity release firm Milton Homes; Douglas Howie and Jay Birch acting for Germany-based Hannover Re on the acquisition of Argenta Holdings; and Patrick Eaton assisting Credo Business Consulting with its sale to US-based Teneo Holdings.

The team at Edwin Coe LLP handles public and private M&A, and acts for a number of overseas companies investing in the UK, such as United Technologies, Sabre Airline Solutions, Kout Food Group and Bel Fuse. The practice is led by Russel Shear, who recently acted for Germany-based Siegwerk Druckfarben on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of ink supplier Hi-Tech Products. Other highlights included Alexandre Terrasse advising on the sale of the entire issued share capital of a wind power producing company based in Ukraine to a large Swedish energy group, and acting for a specialist steels and alloys manufacturer on the £17m purchase of metal manufacturing assets for the automotive and aviation industries. Victor Hawrych, David Kinch and John Young, who joined from Mishcon de Reya LLP in May 2017, are also noted.

Tom Rowley heads the practice at Freeths LLP; he has particular expertise in the aviation sector, and has also handled a number of AIM transactions, including acting for AIM-quoted eg solutions on its £26m public takeover by Verint Systems. Peter Hill advised specialist healthcare business Selborne Care on the £17m sale of the company to CareTech Community Services; he also acted for Korodo on the sale of Smiths of Smithfield to Young & Co’s Brewery. In the leisure and hospitality sector, Andrew Bretherton acted on a series of transactions: he advised Ten Entertainment Group on the acquisition of a tenpin bowling business from David Lloyd Leisure and JM Fitness Studios on the acquisition of three gym studios in Winchester, Aldgate and Islington, also from David Lloyd Leisure.  Senior associate Francis Dalton, who focuses on private M&A transactions in the media, technology and healthcare sectors, is also noted. Other key clients include Business Growth Fund, Quixant, Autins Group and Stockdale Securities.

Gateley Plc has a particular strength in the private equity sector, acting for investors such as Dunedin, LDC, Ridgeway Capital, Maven and NorthEdge, as well as large corporates and high-net-worth individuals. Paul Hayward heads the team; he recently acted for Scout 7 Holdings on its sale to Perform Media Services. Steven Raize, who has extensive experience in the recruitment sector, advised investor Ridgeway Capital and newco CM Harbour on the secondary management buyout from LDC of Caspian Media. Nick Smith, who specialises in telecoms and technology M&A, is also noted.

Core sector strengths for the team at Goodman Derrick LLP include publishing, media and entertainment, technology, hospitality and leisure, real estate and construction, and professional services. Among other highlights, Paul Webb acted for the shareholders of Adsensa on the sale of 100% of the share capital to US technology company Exari Group; Edward Hoare advised Pavilion Books Group on the acquisition of the Pitkin Publishing imprint and related trade and assets from The History Press; Dominic Prentis, who joined from Gowling WLG in January 2018, assisted AIM-listed wealth management firm AFH Financial Group on the acquisition of financial planning business Eunisure; and Jessica Nugent advised Simmons Bar Group on the £10m sale of a majority stake in the company to a private equity-backed purchase vehicle. Practice head Tanya Shillingford, Simon McLeod and Joanna Higton are also noted.

Daniel Bellau leads the team at Hamlins LLP, which handles public and private M&A and is known for advising overseas quoted companies. The technology, media, leisure and real estate sectors are particular areas of focus. Highlights included advising new client Trevali Mining Corporation on the English law aspects of its $418m acquisition of a portfolio of zinc assets from Glencore; acting on the merger between GPEA, the parent company of the Guild of Property Professionals and Fine & Country, and online estate agent easyProperty to form e-Prop Services; and assisting Park Plaza Hotels Europe with the £14m acquisition of a significant minority stake in South Bank Hotel Management. Aselle Djumabaeva-Wood, who is dual qualified in the UK and Russia, consultant Louise Wolfson and media and IP expert Matthew Pryke are also noted.

The team at Irwin Mitchell focuses on owner-managed and mid-market businesses, private equity and venture capital, and equity capital markets. It has handled several cross-border transactions: practice head Bryan Bletso, who specialises in private company and international work, advised Conmar Holdings on the $8m sale of fire detection product provider Fireboy-Xintex to US fire apparatus manufacturer W.S. Darley & Co. James Paton-Philip, who is noted for his expertise in the technology sector, acted for the Council of Mortgage Lenders on a merger with other trade associations in the finance and banking industry. Other clients include Engage ESM, Bought by Many, Uniplaces and Petroleum Pipe Group.

The team at Joelson primarily acts for clients in the food and drink, leisure and gaming, media and resources sectors, including Innocent Drinks, Leon Restaurants, Ash Gaming, Real Good Food, Mumsnet and Richland. Phil Hails-Smith and Paul Chiappe jointly lead the practice; Hails-Smith advised the management team of Clarion Events on the £600m sale and reinvestment in Clarion in relation to its acquisition by Blackstone, and Chiappe acted for Healthy Kids (trading as Little Dish) on its £17m sale to Chicago-based private equity firm Profile Capital. Other noted members of the team are Sheldon Cordell, who advised May Capital on the £1.8bn acquisition (along with partner Patron Capital) of Punch Taverns, and Philippa Sturt, who acted for Schawk, a subsidiary of Matthews International, on the £10.25m acquisition of VCG (Holdings) and its subsidiaries from LBI ehf.

Keystone Law counts start-ups, high-growth companies and large corporates, as well as private investors, venture capitalists and angel investors, among its clients; it has a particular focus on the TMT, healthcare and real estate sectors. Nadim Zaman advised WFL Media (trading as DesignMyNight) and its shareholders on its $30m sale to private equity-owned The Access Group; Andrew Stilton and Northern Ireland-based JP Irvine, who joined the firm from an in-house position at Translink Group, acted for pre-cast concrete products manufacturer CPM Group on its £38m sale to hard landscaping specialist Marshalls; and Catherine Williams assisted beauty services provider Blow with a £3.5m follow-on equity round investment by Unilever Ventures.

The corporate practice at Laytons LLP has been strengthened following the firm's merger with Silverman Sherliker in August 2017. The retail and food and drinks sectors are key areas of focus for the team, which is led by Cameron Sunter and also includes TMT and retail sector expert Simon Baker, Daniel Oldfield, who has handled a number of transactions for overseas clients, and Christopher Sherliker, who is noted for his extensive experience in US-related matters. Recent highlights include acting for UK and South Africa-based fastjet on its $28.8m placement of shares and the $19.2m acquisition of a special purpose vehicle owned by Solenta, and advising professional services firm Work Group on its £18.8m reverse takeover by Gordon Dadds to form Gordon Dadds Group, which began trading on AIM.

Malcolm Murray leads the team at Lee & Thompson LLP, which specialises in advising clients in the media, technology and creative industries, with clients including BMG Music, Lionsgate and Sony Music. Among other highlights, Murray advised the shareholders of TCB Media Rights on the sale of the company to Toronto-based Kew Media Group, and acted for exhibition and events organiser Angus Montgomery, a longstanding client, on the acquisition of a majority stake in Fit Events; in addition, Oliver Shipton assisted Victoria Beckham Limited with an investment into the company by Neo Investment Partners. The practice has also been strengthened by the arrivals of video games industry expert Julian Ward from Hamlins LLP, Sarah Barker, who focuses on the arts sector, from Montgomery Baker, and advertising and marketing specialist Huw Morris from Reed Smith LLP. Senior associate Lucy Strauss is also noted.

The team at Locke Lord LLP acts for clients ranging from start-up companies to large corporates, with a particular focus on the energy, oil and gas, mining and natural resources, financial services and retail sectors. The practice has handled a number of cross-border deals; Sean Page advised Hong Kong-based Adamas Finance Asia on its $15.6m disposal of its interest in Global Pharm Holdings, as well as assisting BVI-headquartered Thalassa Holdings with the $30m disposal of one of its subsidiaries to US corporate Fairfield Industries. London office managing partner James Channo leads the practice; energy sector expert Kevin Atkins and senior counsel Nicholas Jennings, who has extensive experience of the Middle Eastern markets, are also noted.

Richard Cobb leads the team at Michelmores LLP, which has been particularly active in the agribusiness, financial services, fast-moving consumer goods, forestry, real estate and renewable energy industries, often handling multi-jurisdictional transactions. The practice was bolstered by the arrivals of Philip Newhouse from McGuireWoods London LLP, associate Nirav Patel, and solicitor Rav Sagar from Stevens & Bolton LLP. Ian Binnie recently acted for financial advice provider LEBC Holdings on its acquisition of Aspira Corporate Solutions, as well as advising the shareholders of Knadel on the sale of the company to financial markets consultancy Catalyst Development, and Joe Whitfield assisted Oasis Capital with its sale of a significant minority stake in a Pakistani commercial property development company. Associates Edwin Richards and Harry Trick are also noted.

The team at Payne Hicks Beach is known for advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals and family offices, predominantly in the financial services, technology, hotels and property, automotive and publishing sectors. Head of corporate Jonathan Gatward and head of M&A Nick Sayers advised Fairfield Industries on its acquisition of WGP Group and its subsidiaries from surveying services company Thalassa Holdings, and Gatward also acted for Legrand Electric on its acquisition of monitoring software developer Jontek. Senior associate Howard Taylor and solicitors Marcia Kidd and Isobel Symonds are also key members of the team, whose other clients include Bonnier Publishing, DNA Fit, Pineapple Holdings and Typhoo Tea. Max Baird-Smith moved to Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP.

The technology, retail, manufacturing and financial services sectors are particular areas of focus for the team at Royds Withy King, which regularly acts for overseas clients entering the UK market. John North leads the team, which also includes Claus Andersen, who is dual qualified in the UK and Denmark, and Tony Roberts. Recent highlights include advising a Swedish company in the heating technology sector on the English law aspects of its acquisition of a UK-headquartered company, and acting for the shareholders of event management agency Banks Sadler Group on the sale of the company to American Express Global Business Travel. Baglioni Hotels Group, De Agostini UK and Oxford Genetics are also key clients.

The team at Russell-Cooke LLP counts large corporates, high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, SMEs and family businesses among its clients, and specialises in the technology, marketing and PR, travel and leisure, and property sectors. Guy Wilmot advised B2B market research consultancy Circle Research on the sale of the company to Next Fifteen Communications Group. David Webster acted for The Gym Limited on its acquisition of a gym from Rush Fitness. Jonathan Thornton leads the team; property sector expert Scott Leonard is also noted. Other clients include Your Self Store, Moulton Goodies, G Adventures and Beavis Morgan.

Sport sector expert David Salisbury heads the team at Teacher Stern LLP, which has handled transactions in the restaurant, hotels and leisure, TMT, energy and transport sectors, among others. Martine Nathan, who specialises in technology, acted for online game company Eyecon on its £50m sale to Playtech; Kelly Whitfield focuses on private M&A, while Claire Rollo regularly advises family-owned businesses. Senior associate David Bath is also noted. Clients of the practice include Burger & Lobster Group, Charlton Athletic and El Al Airways. Dov Katz, who specialises in capital markets work, recently left the firm for Greenwoods GRM.

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Legal Developments in London for M&A: smaller deals up to £50m

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